On Expectations and Metrics
By Martin Klubeck
Using “targets” and “stretch goals” for analyzing your performance metrics is not only outdated, it’s a bad idea.
Not everyone agrees with me, though. For the past five years, in numerous online discussion groups I have offered the concept of “expectations” as a replacement for the more traditional (some would say “time-tested”) targets and stretch goals. I have also presented the concept in seminars and presentations on metrics, and it has met with decidedly mixed reviews. When I propose the use of expectations to performance measurement and performance management experts, I generally receive cautious rebuttal. The idea of not driving behavior through the careful collection, analysis, and reporting of data goes against the accepted paradigm. In contrast, many others support the concept of expectations and are ready to drop targets and stretch goals. The make-up of these two groups is telling: those who believe metrics should be used to manage behavior, and those who believe they should be used to provide insights to improvement.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning. What are “stretch goals,” “targets,” and “expectations” and what impact do they have on applying metrics in your organization?